It is before lunch time right now and the weather is annoyingly hot. High temperature is focused on millions of sweat drops flowing down students’ face as if the Sun is raging toward the Earth. Here I am, closely observing every minute detail of the school canteen. Located upon the green hill of my school, the canteen symbolizes the heart of this school. Having various kind of delicate food, the canteen has long been nurturing chit chats, sharing of joys and pains and delicious meals. The school has long been well-known for its high standard of education. But the position of the school also attributes a major part in its reputation. Located on a small green hill, the canteen makes it special by lying on the middle center of the area. It is rather an airy place to eat as it has two sides opened to the sky and two beautiful verdant grass carpets sitting along the walkway. Standing from the staircase next to the art room, one can have the most detailed panorama of the canteen: colorful counters of food stall in the opposite view, blue and light yellow chairs surrounding around tables as if they were having some kind of conference or four monolithic pillars standing firmly around the place like guardians, watching over everyone’s meal. As I approach the canteen and go further inside, my five senses are awoken.
The sound, the smell, the sight, and the feeling,… all are very typical and familiar to every students and staff in the school. Walking pass those tables, I can see some yellow specks on the surface as the result of previous break time. Adhered to the walls are many faded brownish yellow print of the oil smoke from the food cooking process in various wondrous shapes and features. Some times when having my lunch, I look at those prints and feel like the canteen’s soul and spirit emerging. When I go further inside the canteen, the savory smell from the kitchen flies straight into my nose. Without seeing the process, the scent itself expresses the workmanship and devotion of cooks and staffs here. They cook and make food with all their heart, partially reflected on the jolly sound of fried and stirred pieces of vegie, meatballs or chips. At this time, I am now a part of the canteen. Incidentally, the bell rings, notifies that lunch time has come. In just about one or two minutes, herds of students from different grades crowd into the place. After a short time, the canteen packs itself up with more than a seven hundred people. Students and teachers scatter all over the place, starting to eat, chat and share stories.
Lining neatly in front of stalls are students who looked at the bright red lines of food name to choose what food they will have for the day. Imagine that every people are invisible, you can see an exciting festival where various kinds of foods are dancing and moving around the room, ranging from Mr. Salty Chicken, Mrs. Sweetened Ice Milo to Sir. Hot Chili Fishball… They all used their specific perfume so the smells blend in and make a unique combination and turn the canteen-hall into a place suffused with a diversity of scent. Around the corner of the canteen is the tray collector where dirty dishes and trays are sent to be ‘re-educated’ and become a clean for use again. If you are paying enough attention, fans on the ceiling are groaning afflictively as the result of hours serving coolness to students. On the blue sky outside, birds are chirping a joyful melody as if they were there to amuse people in lunch.
Down to the ground, groups of friends are chatting boisterously and the sound of clashing plastic dishes inside the cabinet all along make a distinct aura of the heart of my school. Eventually the bell does its job again, marking time for everyone to get back to work. The canteen is left vacant once again and the very special feeling that she is feeling lonely comes across my mind when I sit down on a chair and hear the sound of silence. After making everyone happy by feeding them with delicious meals, the canteen – just like a mother, return to her normal activity when all of her children have gone to classes. Now and then, some odd students who have a free period go down and spend time with her. After school time, when everybody has gone home, no one knows what happens to the canteen and whether there is somebody to stay back and watch it. All we do know is, when the sun rises, she wakes up regularly early to welcome her kids for a new day. To all students and staffs, the canteen always plays an important part in our time at school as she inherits the very unique spirit and passes it down to generations to carry on my school’s legacy.